There are so many challenges that inhibit our ability to recycle efficiently.
Although the dream of contributing to a greener future by simply putting that container with a recycling triangle in your nearest recycling bin lives on, the reality is that plastics can only be re-manufactured and re-worked so many times before becoming warped at a molecular level.
Moreover, alot of recyclable packaging is contaminated; with food, with glue, with biowaste, or with other materials that make them unsuitable for re-processing, so that the essentially become waste that is sorted out to be sent to landfill.
HOWEVER! This is where innovation and collaboration comes into play.
A corporate partnership between Henkel and TerraCycle has resulted in the first commercial recycling solution for a category of material known as anaerobic adhesive packaging. The former company is a German-based multinational responsible for bringing you laundry & home care, beauty care an adhesive technologies such as Schwarzkopf, Dynamo and Loctite, and the latter is a small private US business that recycles pre- and post-consumer goods into other products, a process known as ‘upcycling’.
The partnership manifests as the LOCTITE (R) Anaerobic Adhesive Recycling Program, wherein Henkel provides customers with the option to buy and fill a postage-paid recycling box with empty LOCTITE adhesive containers. Anaerobic adhesives are use in construction, engineering and home DIY for sealing gaps between metal components to prevent hazards such as corrosion and mechanical vibration.
Anaerobic adhesive packaging is notorious for having residual adhesive that make them unsuitable for conventional waste management. TerraCycle has developed a method for curing the polyethylene (PE) plastic bottles of their residual adhesives in an industrial oven, which focuses on careful monitoring and control of temperature and atmosphere.
Once cured, TerraCycle processes the plastic with more conventional methods (including shredding, washing, drying and pelletization) to upcycle the plastic into a whole range of useful goods such as chairs, watering cans, paving stones and park benches.
Bravo to these two companies for striving towards a zero-waste world. This examples show us how proactive sustainability measures by global conglomerates like Henkel accelerate the commercial viability of green innovation, and that small private companies like TerraCycle nurtures this type of innovation to fruition. Change comes from the collaboration of macro and micro scale entities, and we as customers can make that change widespread by supporting these types of companies with our purchasing power.
Image Credit: http://hybris.cms.henkel.com/medias/sys_master/8797258776606.jpg